Physical and Motor Development
3-4 y.o. – broad jumps about 1 ft., kicks a ball forward, throws ball overhand, stands on one foot for 5 seconds, catches a bounced ball (most of the time)
4-5 y.o. – skips, hops, somersaults, climbs up a jungle gym, stands on one foot for 10 seconds, moves backward and forwards with agility. [4 y.o. – average age to start swimming lessons (American Association of Pediatrics recommendation). Early swimming has not been definitively shown to decrease drowning risk or increase swimming skill.]
5-6 y.o. – Runs smoothly, gallops, one-foot skips, hops up to 9 times on one foot, throws a ball with body shift, catches a ball with both hands, rides a tricycle well, swings.
6 y.o. – Jumps up to 1 foot and broad jumps up to 3 feet.
These children can remember basic information, recall information on demand, answer simple “who” and “what” questions. Their memory is enhanced by visual aids and they learn from trial and error. They have short attention spans (5-15 minutes) and poor selective attention. They can follow simple rules but will need visual cues and frequent reminders.
5 y.o. – They cannot process multiple instructions. They can follow simple sentences combined with visual cues demonstrating the action. This is an age to work on communicating emotion in appropriate ways (e.g. frustration, tiredness, angry, happiness, or excitement)
They are egocentric (“me first”). By age 6, they do best with same gender play. They learn autonomy and trust through their own successes and failures. They cannot compare their abilities to others. They may not understand why one child has more playing time than them.
They are still developing tracking capacity and judging velocity of people and objects – due to far-sightedness, not lack of motor coordination. Thus they may throw a ball too fast or may get hit in the head with a ball while batting. T-ball is one solution to the underdeveloped tracking of this age group.
They may have difficulty discriminating which words they should listen to when coaches and multiple parents are yelling.
They can distinguish right and left sided body parts. They can also locate themselves in relation to other objects. They may not be able to control the intensity or trajectory of a gross motor action. (e.g. may throw a ball too fast or kick a ball in the wrong direction) Slow, controlled drills can allow the child time to begin forming complex motor movements and coordinating multiple tasks.
It is especially important for children in this age group to participate in physical activities that promote fun and age-appropriate motor, social, and emotional skills rather than competition. They can remember simple rules and play games that require simple decision-making skills. They only understand clear and concise information (concrete-operational stage). They will likely not understand the competitive nature of sports participation. “Bee hive” soccer is normal at this stage.
Children at this age should be in a variety of different activities that allow them to practice and refine skills as well as have fun. There should be a focus on learning by trial and error with minimal instruction.
1) Mobility (hop, skip, run, slide, crawl, creep, slither, and climb) in different directions and on different surfaces (flat, inclined, wavy, wet, dry).
2) Posture control and balance (head stands, hanging). They should experience being in balance and out of balance, move their bodies up and down in space (jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, and leaping) and experience different forms of contorting their bodies (turning, spinning, rolling, twisting, tumbling, gesturing, bending, stretching, reaching).
4) Temporal sequences (going quickly or slowly, moving ones body in time to different forms of music, rhythm, sound patterns).
5) Shapes (round, oval, square, thin, twisted, and straight).
6) Physical properties of sports objects (bat, ball) and
7) Different concepts and actions (strong vs. weak, heavy vs. light, smooth vs. rough or bumpy, push vs. pull, receive vs. send).